YouTube Tests Ad-Supported Movies

The streaming video platform YouTube quietly rolled out a new feature over the past few weeks: full-length, ad-supported movies.

The movies are part of an exclusive deal the company signed with MGM. Among those now streaming: “Terminator,” “Legally Blonde,” “The Pink Panther” films and “Rocky.”

The movies are available through YouTube Movies, which previously focused on movie rentals and purchases. They feature pre-roll advertising and a number of ad breaks. As of this writing, “Rocky” featured 10 interstitial ad breaks.

YouTube’s flexible advertising model could potentially enable other options, like allowing one advertiser to sponsor an entire film. As with YouTube’s other channels, the movies will be ad-free to subscribers of YouTube Premium.

What YouTube has going for it is its massive scale.

The company says it has 1.8 billion logged-in users per month and has become the de facto home for free video content online. Many consumers still associate YouTube with user-generated content, short-form video from creators, or music videos. The company is clearly trying to remedy that association.

In addition, classic movies are a safe, reliable place to advertise. Marketers know exactly what they are getting. With YouTube having faced a number of brand-safety controversies over the last year, adding brand-safe content to its portfolio is one solution to the problem.

Free, ad-supported movies may be fresh to YouTube, but they have become one of the staple features of Vudu, the streaming video service owned by Walmart. Vudu also has a deal with MGM, covering the same library of films. It also has other deals with other studios. It isn’t clear whether YouTube will pursue similar arrangements.

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Kevin Spacey’s “Billionaire Boys Club” made $126 on opening day. That’s not a typo

If you’re reading this, you probably didn’t go see Kevin Spacey’s new movie, Billionaire Boys Club, at the theater this weekend.

How do we know this? Well, according to the Hollywood Reporter, the film made $126 when it opened across 10 theaters in the US on Aug. 17. One hundred and twenty six. Dollars. In other words, the film grossed about $12 per theater. That’s roughly the price of one movie ticket in the US nowadays. So, in total, approximately 10 actual human beings paid to see Billionaire Boys Club in a movie theater when it came out on Friday. We’re guessing you weren’t one of them.

Based on the real life 1980s social club of the same name, Billionaire Boys Club was one of the last films Spacey completed before a number of sexual assault allegations against the actor came to light in 2017. Since then, Spacey was fired from his long-standing role in Netflix’s House of Cards and hastily replaced in Ridley Scott’s 2017 J. Paul Getty film, All the Money in the World, by the Canadian actor Christopher Plummer. Netflix also canceled the release of a film about Gore Vidal, which starred Spacey as the famed writer.

In June, film distributor Vertical Entertainment announced it would go ahead with a limited theatrical release of Billionaire Boys Club despite the allegations, citing the work of the other actors and crew members on the film. “We don’t condone sexual harassment on any level and we fully support victims of it,” Vertical said in a statement. “At the same time, this is neither an easy nor insensitive decision to release this film in theaters, but we believe in giving the cast, as well as hundreds of crew members who worked hard on the film, the chance to see their final product reach audiences.”

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